Step Back, then Step Out

September 23, 2010

It is important to be happy and enjoy what we do. Naturally, there will be down days and frustrations, but overall a happy positive spirit will help us to do what we do in our best way.

I came across an article that included the following thought provoking quote.

“I contend that the key to professional happiness is asking yourself two simple questions every single day: Are you passionate about what you do? And if not, what are you going to do instead?”
– Bill Murphy Jr. – the author of The Intelligent Entrepreneur ($27.50, amazon.com).

This key to happiness is something worth considering. Having passion about what we do is very important. We can also find passion in what we do away from the workplace. But finding happiness at work results from a deep desire to solve problems and help others.

I am going to look for ways today to re ignite my passion for what I do and why I do it.

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Keys to Planning a Successful Holiday Party or Banquet

August 16, 2010

The difference between a great event and an average party can be very elusive to many company party organizers.  You want your guests to enjoy themselves. You want the event to be unique, fun and a hit with your friends and co-workers, and you want people to leave with positive memories and a feeling of being glad that they came. As challenging as it is to put a successful event together, this should be a fun process and it can all smoothly come together by following a few simple guidelines.

There are many locations that host lovely parties and once your group’s size is established you can look for a meeting room that is ideal.  Event centers, ballrooms, hotels and restaurants offer beautiful meeting rooms (some already decorated). You can find excellent dinners at a wide range of costs.  Figure $12-$15 for lower priced menus and $18-$28 for fine dining.  Of course you can also find many places that will give you a superb dinner and atmosphere for much more.

A great atmosphere and quality of food is a big part of the success of an event but as we will discuss soon, that may not be the single most important consideration is the success of a company banquet or party.

Don’t let the high cost fool you. You can have a very successful event on a smaller budget. I have been a part of many very wonderful events and company parties that have been held at the office and these were economically catered with very tasty food and the crowd had a blast.

Probably the reason that buffets are very popular for this type of event is at least the guest can choose what they like and is often hotter than food that is brought out on a covered plate.

One quick thing to consider in event selection is parking. Discover if the hotel charges guests for parking, as some have a fee of up to $12 per car that your guests must pay before they even step into the “free” event.

Decorations can be fancy or frugal, but in the dim light of a banquet room you might find that spending a lot may not add anything to the event.  A simple yet elegant option is to place a candle on an 8” square mirror at the center of each table.  Helium balloons can be designed in beautiful ways such as arches and in other festive ways, but consider the inability of people to see the speaker or president of the company as these may block the sight lines to the stage if the balloons are floating up from the center of each table.   Decoration suggestions will be covered in another article.

The Number One Key to a Great Event!

Step back and consider some of the events you have attended and what made them great.  It comes down to the people having fun together.  There are ways to instigate fun and bring humor into a party that will make all the difference.

Someone I admire a lot said, “When was the last time you, or someone you know, said, “Wow, that Chicken Kiev was sure awesome 3 weeks ago at the office party.”  Chances are the food was good, but not outstanding or memorable as the waiters brought it in on covered patters that were put together an hour before and held in heating racks in the back room.   Food, decoration or the hall have little to do with what makes an event memorable or the successful.

The number one factor to an event’s success is as simple as selecting the right after-dinner entertainment. Many entertainment committees will spend much time and resources on the menu and decorations and this adds positively to the atmosphere of the event, but what your guests will remember and still talk about weeks after, will be the laughter they had and the real team building fun of an excellent entertainer.  This sounds simple and easy. The following are some tips to help bring this all together and make your next event very successful.

First, by entertainment, we are not talking here about a D.J. or a band.  This is basically background entertainment and adds to the event in many ways.  But people can still have fun with even an average D.J. as things can keep moving by selecting a few good tunes.  For tips on selecting a great D. J. look for another article on this topic and some recommendations.  I have observed many events where when the band starts half the audience leaves as it is loud or not to their taste.

The #1 key to a wonderful event is bringing in an after dinner entertainer that grabs your audience’s attention and brings them together. This is the expertise  of a comedy entertainer who skillfully works the room.  Discovering a great entertainer for your event is your challenge and can be a daunting task.

The rest of this article will present many suggestions that will help give your event a very strong and positive outcome. That article will be posted in a few days.

If you are looking for a possible comedy entertainer please check out MagicNorm.com

Motivating and Speaking in SIngapore

July 13, 2010

I am behind of this blog as I am teaching and performing in Singapore for 10 days. I have been a part of wonderful stage shows in a classic theater along with acts from Tokyo and USA.

I enjoy motivating people to strive for their best and find creative solutions to business problems.  The response to these workshops and lectures has been very good . I’ll post some photos of this lovely city soon.

I’ll be back in USA in a minute – well two days… and then I can be available to help motivate and encourage your team.

Like it or not – We Must Take Risks

June 29, 2010

Business is all about risk taking. We can dream up an idea for a product or service, but when it comes to implementing it the risk taking begins.

Investing money in the start up and deciding where and how to advertise all involves risk.  The best we can do is to research the options and make an informed decision based on that knowledge.

Ways to lower the risk.

A very important thing that many businesses forget to do is to find a way to track their successes.  We need to ask customers how they heard about us and that will help us discover  what methods of advertising are working best.

It is important to place response cues within the advertisement that will let us know which ad motivated the purchase or the call for more information.  This call to action will possibly involve a free sample, a coupon, a bonus if you act now.  This way we can track the ads success in bringing new clients.

In direct sales and cold calling we still want to keep track of the response rate and discover how to improve our presentations by surveying the clients on their feelings about the way the product or service was presented.

Brainstorm to find creative ways to reach new clients, but track the process so you can build on this success and improve your outreach.

The Best Time to Grow Your Business

June 22, 2010

Yesterday I enjoyed planting two cherry trees in the yard. They are about 6 foot tall and full of foliage, but it will be at least 2 years before they will have some nice cherries.

An Ancient Chinese Proverb says… “The best time to plant a tree is 15 years ago… the second best time to plant a tree is today.”

We need to get moving on growing our business now, today! Each day should be spent in  to developing new customers and reaching out to our existing customers.

Think where we would be if we had done more to develop new clients 5 years ago. Sure we would be better off if we did more last week or last year.  We can not dwell on missed opportunities unless they motivate us to not let it happen again. Do something to move forward today.

Make an action plan for tomorrow and get on it. In no time you will enjoy the fruit of your labor.

Humor vs. Stress in the Workplace

May 12, 2010

Like Godzilla vs Megadon, humor battles stress and its related evil byproducts.

How serious is stress? Expert s say that stress is a factor in over 70% of illness. Stress can be involved in high blood pressure, anxiety and ulcers. Not fun stuff. But laughter and humor arrive to save the day and can combat stress as it starts.

We need to be aware of when we are under stress. We need to react to it with a deep breath and a calming reminder to ourselves that we can get through this. Finally a refreshing 5 or 10 minute comedy break can help us get back into a positive mood and help us to move forward to tackle that Goliath of a problem that is facing us. A healthy dose of humor will help us release the tension and allow us to move forward with clarity and a positive attitude.

We know that sooner later some sort of stress will come into our lives. Be prepared for that next difficult situation and have a humor button on your computer. This is a place in your bookmarks that takes to you to  several comedy sites that you know have funny stuff.

You may also wish to have a folder in your e-mail that contains funny photos and videos that friends have sent. This file can bring relief when needed and help you brighten up your spirits and your day,. This positive attitude can help us push on and find solutions

Humor can alter our mood without any harmful side effects, unless you get a pain in your ribs from laughing.

Seven Ways That Humor in the Workplace is Valuable By Norm Barnhart

May 5, 2010

Life in the workplace is full of challenges, pressures, demands and change. A dose of humor is good medicine and helps us to deal with stress. Effective leaders and employees can benefit from laughter as it encourages team building, creative problem solving and can set a positive work atmosphere.

7 Ways That Humor in the Workplace is Valuable

1 Humor Creates a Positive Atmosphere. People get more done when they are happy and feeling positive. We laugh with our friends and a friendly environment can be a healthy and more productive environment.

2. Humor is the Ultimate  Stress Reducer. OK, Humor may be the second best stress reliever next to some drug, but the side effects of humor are more beneficial to the work environment. There is potential for stress in every workplace.  It can build and eat away at productivity. A little levity can help reduce stress in difficult situations. Humor can bring people together and this can help refocus energy to the task at hand.

3. Humor Builds the Team. Humor is an asset in the workplace because it encourages communication, builds relationships and helps people get along. It helps generate a positive work environment and builds the team. Add a short joke or cartoon to an inner office memo or e-mail. People will look forward to hearing from you.

4. Humor helps us in Creative Problem Solving. Humor helps bring a mindset of creativity because humor comes from looking at things in different ways. The more we practice using our sense of humor the more our mind expands and looks at the possibilities in front of us.

5. Humor Creates a Positive work environment. A cheerful place to work is a place where people are feeling positive and supported. It lifts Spirits and Attitudes.  If a person makes a mistake we can try to look at the humorous side and get over it quicker. Getting past mistakes and into forgiveness is important to give to others when they make an error. This atmosphere of kindness is very valuable when we are the one who makes a mistake. An attitude of grace comes from looking at problems and misunderstandings in a humorous way.  Someday we’ll look back on this and it will be funny.

6. Humor helps us keep a positive perspective on Life and Work. When we look at the bright side of things our attitude is more positive.

7. Humor Encourages Communication.  Laughter helps people get closer and to connect and bond. When we laugh together we find common ground and this builds a positive work environment.

The Logic of Humor as a Business Tool By Norm Barnhart

May 4, 2010

Does humor have some logical and tangible positive effects on the creative state of mind? Is there a connection between success and your attitude resulting from humor in the workplace? Let’s look at this logical and analytical manner.

Experts say that children laugh or smile an average of 400 times a day. Adults laugh or smile an average of 15 times a day. Adults are missing out on 385 laughs or smiles each day! Does this lack of laughter have a side effect? Is it good to deprive ourselves of the joy that comes from laughter? Can we have greater success in problem solving through humor?

Don’t miss out on the laughter its benefits. Cultivate your sense of humor and see the resulting success in creative solutions to problems and challenges.

Laughter can make us creative because it works out a part of the brain that enjoys discovering the unexpected. A punch line in a joke is unexpected and it triggers a reaction in the creative part of the brain that says, “ah-hah!” The more we enjoy the unexpected side of life the more we will exercise our ability to become aware of different ways to look at situations.

Looking at things from different angles is the root of creativity. Develop this gift you already have and you will make yourself an invaluable part of any team. You will be the idea person who helps the organization come up with productive solutions.

One of the humor’s biggest benefits is the ability to laugh at our failures.  Failure is a secret key to success. Thomas Edison “failed” many times as he attempted to make a practical light bulb.  He did not look at them as failures, but he felt that he was discovering thousands of ways to not make a light bulb.

Babe Ruth swung and missed many times and yet the more he swung and tried, the more often he put one out of the park! You may strike out many times, but the more you try the more successful results will come.

Humor Combats Stress

Studies have shown that people are better able to handle stress and discomfort while listening to humorous recordings than those who listened cds of non-fiction information or silence or even relaxation tapes. Laughter and comedy can break us free of stress and release the creativity in our minds. This creativity is also the problem solving and solution finding part of the mind. This is what can make us invaluable to our place of work and that is a huge factor in our success in the workplace.

Need a Creative Breakthrough? Step into the Humor Zone! – Part Two

April 29, 2010

When you find yourself involved in a difficult or stressful project and you need a creative breakthrough, take a short humor break.

7 Things you can do during a humor break.

1)      Write a funny poem for a special someone. Children, nieces and nephews are people who appreciate a note and a simple cartoon. When is the last time you have hand-written a note to a sibling. Send a drawing of a funny experience years ago and brighten their day while you exercise your creative mind.  A simple start is a Roses are red type poem then move on to limerick or rhyming verse.

2)      Draw a simple stick cartoon with a caption. To start you need a place, and character or two. One comments to the other about an object or thing they observe and you have a cartoon. Take it a step further and write several funny captions for your art.

3)      Clip a photo from the paper and write several silly captions to go with it. Read the Onion and take a photo from that paper and stick it at the top of a sheet of paper. Write several captions to go below it.

4)      Clip a Far side cartoon or other cartoon and stick it to the top of a sheet of paper and write comic captions for this.  It will get your mind going in creative directions.

5)      Eat a treat in a funny way. Actually imagine yourself in a old time movie and you are Charlie Chaplin eating a Hershey bar or ice cream sandwich. Use your fork and knife… tuck your napkin in your chin with aplomb and act like a high class lord or lady.  Just be silly and enjoy the moment. This assumes, of course, that you have a private office.

6)      Get up and do a silly walk. If you need lesson on this, study the British TV Comedies by the Monte Python’s Troup. They have an excellent skit where they work at the Government Ministry of Silly Walks. Get up, work out your body and mind at the same time. Then see how your mind is ready to move forward on the duties at hand. This assumes you have a very private office. I do know some creative guys that do art for books and it would be likely you’ll see them doing this or shooting Nerf darts at each other when they are in a creative slump.

7)      Inspire someone! Send a handmade quickie card. It can simply be a piece of cardboard cut from the side of a soda pop box. For example take an Orange Crush box, cut a 4 x 6 inch “greeting card” and write, “When the Crush is on I know I can count on you!” Or with Pepsi you might write, “You got more Pep than a Pepsi.” It does not have to be overly clever, just do something a bit creative and humorous and you will discover yourself moving ahead.

8)      Write a note of encouragement to a co-worker or friend. Write about a humorous moment that you shared with them. Or tell them something funny that happened to you recently. Keep a copy for yourself to have in your file. When you need a pick me up, remember the funny situation and in this way you can give yourself a humor.  Doing something positive for someone makes you more positive. (OK there are 8 but, 7 ways just sounded cooler)

What is your alternative? You could stay chained to your desk steeping in stress with your shoulders slumped and strained from a heavy burden, as if Mr. Universe were sitting on your shoulders. You don’t need that. You can solve this task and a bit of humor will lift you back into your creative zone.

Motivate your staff with the Teamwork and service presentation at Inspire.aces-show.biz

Have a Healthy and Humorous Life

April 28, 2010

Developing a comic vision for seeing the funny side of life is a vital element to keeping a positive attitude. Comic vision is the ability to perceive the humor around us. To develop this, we need to study and discover what tickles our funny bone.

What is the best way to make you laugh? Do you enjoy a joke or funny story? Do you find that a cartoon in the paper brings the biggest joy?  Do you like humor that is more visual such as that of a physical comedian or old time movie?  Are you a coinsure of more intellectual twists on things in life such as the sign at the store: “For your convenience, we will be closed Christmas Day.”

Another example of humor all around us comes from the newsletter, About Women on Campus,  published by the National Association for Women in Education, as reported in Chronicles of Higher Education, “More than half (55 percent) of women undergraduates are female.”  Newspapers are full of funny headlines, develop your comic vision and start seeing them.

I have a friend who is extremely punny. His favorite style of humor is puns and he has a million stories that have puntastic finishes. Some see this humor of his as pun-ishment.

Study what makes you laugh and do a bit of research to find more of the same. Share it with others and enjoy a laugh with someone. Try out other types of humor and discover how you react to it. A chuckle or a belly laugh, are both helpful in the stress reduction needed each day.

Expand your humorous vision by trying out a few humor prompters that you had not considered before. Try old comedy TV shows, movies or books and articles by comedians. Look at the world in a different way and see it through another’s perspective.  This will help in understanding others as you broaden your horizon of humor.

Once you begin to see the funny side, you will discover that the stressful things in life will still hit you, but you will be stepping over them faster and with grace.  This ability to quickly turn things around will help prevent the dwelling on situations that can compile stress in life.